tv Nightly Business Report PBS December 5, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm PST
of the most widely owned stocks sees heavy trading. >> tom: that and more tonight on "n.b.r." >> susie: big job cuts today at one of the nation's biggest banks. citigroup announced it's slashing 4% of its staff; that works out to 11,000 jobs worldwide. the cuts will save the bank more than $1 billion a year in expenses. but they won't be cheap, resulting in a billion-dollar charge against fourth-quarter earnings. is this gloomy news from citi the beginning of other companies doing the same? suzanne pratt reports. >> reporter: 11,000 jobs are a lot of layoffs, even for a bank as huge as citi. and there could be more. that's because the monster firm is still struggling to recover from the great recession even though it has fired a lot of other workers in the last few years. the thing is, citi has a new c.e.o. in michael corbat, and experts say he's anxious to make his mark, even if that includes cutting staff.
and the need to slim down is not unique to citi; it's industry- wide. a financial industry runs into huge problems. it happened in the '30s, and it happened in the last five years. when you go through these periods, you go through a lot of change. that industry is now trying to figure out what is the right size of the industry. >> reporter: still, economists say citi's action today is not the start of a new wave of mass layoffs across corporate america. the nation's job market may not be robust, but it's not frozen, either. in fact, today, the payroll firm a.d.p. reported 118,000 new private sector jobs were added in november, fewer than in october. the blame for last month's slowdown in hiring falls squarely on hurricane sandy, not on any new or widespread weakness in the economy. >> i would expect that by december, we're going to see some bounce back. much of the disruption from
sandy was people simply not being able to get to work or firms not employing people that they ordinarily would have. >> reporter: friday, the government will report it's monthly snapshot of the u.s. labor market. it, too, is likely to reflect temporary effects related to the aftermath of hurricane sandy. >> we're looking for only a 50,000 gain in jobs in november, well under that 170,000 average we've seen over the past three months. >> reporter: hurricane sandy's effects on hiring may be short- lived, but experts worry fiscal cliff concerns could result in a new storm brewing for workers looking to land a job in the coming weeks. suzanne pratt, "n.b.r.," new york. >> tom: citi and the financials lead the way higher on wall street, helping the dow top 13,000 again. but a big drop in apple shares kept the nasdaq from gains.
by the closing bell, the dow was up 82 points, the nasdaq down 23, the s&p added two points. >> susie: investors were also encouraged by news that american workers were very productive this past summer, and that's good news for company profits. productivity increased at its fastest pace in two years, at an annual rate of 2.9% from july through september. that number blows away the initial estimate of 1.9%. erika miller takes a closer look at how technology is helping to boost safety and productivity. >> reporter: three years ago, this long island hospital had a problem: healthcare workers weren't cleaning their hands as often as required. >> 100,000 people die each year in the united states from hospital acquired infections. that's more than the number of people who die from breast cancer and from auto accidents. it's a huge problem, one that we want to make a dent in. >> reporter: lowering the number of infections is also good for the hospital's financial health.
>> it increases length of stay. it doubles the cost of many operations. we're not reimbursed the same way that we used to for hospital-acquired infections. >> reporter: so the hospital tried an experiment. it put cameras at the entrance to patient rooms in its intensive care unit and tallied how many times workers followed hand hygiene procedures. the compliance rate was less than 10%. but once the hospital started posting the results for the shift publicly, the rate skyrocketed to over 90%. and there were other benefits: >> the patient's family-- as soon as they see us coming in and out, and when they see the hand... the activity of the hand hygiene in and out-- they themselves are using the same methodology. >> reporter: but even if you don't work in healthcare, remote video auditing may be coming to your workplace. the company that makes the monitoring system predicts that virtually every industry will be using this technology within the next decade. >> we are now working in europe and starting to get going in the middle east and asia.
so there's absolutely no bounds to what this can do. >> reporter: arrowsight's technology is also widely used by the meat industry; in some cases, boosting productivity by more than 10%. the biggest barrier to adoption of the technology is not employee backlash, it's money. >> the most difficult thing about a new technology or new service is getting companies that didn't have this anywhere in their budget to create a budget line for it. >> reporter: but north shore hospital says its investment has more than paid off. >> it probably costs at least $40,000 to treat every serious m.r.s.a. infection. if we can eliminate just a handful of those in a year, we've easily paid for it. >> reporter: already, the hospital is planning to expand its video monitoring to other departments, including improving operating room safety and efficiency. erika miller, "n.b.r.," manhasset, new york.
>> bob baur is the chief global economist at principle global investors, with $275 billion on management. bob, the higher productive numbers, will that lead to more hiring, regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff? >> i think it will. we have said for some time that businesses have pushed productivity as far as they can. if we continue at a modest, 2.5% growth rate, that will be enough that businesses will be forced to higher at a faster pace. >> tom: but we're not hearing a lot of confidence coming from the business community. we're seeing it in housing and automotive sales, but in terms of hiring, it is languishing. why do you think that difference exists? >> i think business is looking ahead. there is a real dichotomy, as you mentioned, between businesses and costumers.
businesses are looking ahead, and they're thinking with increased taxes, because of the fiscal cliff, if the worst happens, consumer demand is just going to fall off. they are already taking action today to try to prepare for that eventuality. but the consumer is kind of blankly ignoring this, and confidence is up for really lots of reasons. i mean, the net worth of households has been repaired. about two-thirds of it has come back as house prices rise and stock prices are now double what they were at the bottom in march of '09. when you look at state and local budgets, they're now much better with revenue rising. so the layoffs and budget cuts, we think are waning, if not over. housing is clearly coming back. things are improving and consumer confidence reflects that. >> tom: but there is that dark cloud of the fiscal cliff. you mentioned it earlier, businesses planning for consumer confidence to go off that cliff if we go
off it as a country. do you not agree with that prospect? >> well, no. i believe it will -- if nothing happens and there is no agreement, i think there will be a mild, kind of technical recession in the first half of next year. maybe a 1% decline contraction for both the first and second quarter. but i don't think it will do very much fundamental damage underneath that. it will kind of reduce the base from which spending grows, but once that base is down slightly, i think the growth will continue. >> tom: real quick, is it going to continue for housing and autos, do you think? >> yes. those are the two key things that in the past have really driven recoveries. they haven't for the last three years because housing was part of the crisis, and consumers didn't want to borrow to buy cars. but now i think that is coming back. and that is going to drive the recovery, more like what we're used to. >> tom: a little bit of a tail wind. bob baur along with us, he is with principle global
investors. >> susie: still ahead: freeport mcmoran copper and gold will soon be mining more than its namesake metals. we'll explain. more tough talk today from washington on the fiscal cliff: treasury secretary timothy geithner said he's willing to go over it if republicans don't agree to tax hikes for the wealthiest americans. president obama said basically the same thing but added one more hard line to the negotiations. >> if congress in any way suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to a debt ceiling vote and take us to the brink of default once again, as part of a budget negotiation-- which, by the way, we have never done in our history until we did it last year-- i will not play that game. >> late today the president spoke by telephone with house speaker john boehner.
no specifics on what they said to each other, but it was their first conversation in a week. eventually the two sides will get down to bargaining over specifics, including entitlements. one idea may be to change the way the government measures inflation. that may sound like a small change, but, as darren gersh reports, it could have a big impact. >> reporter: if the price of oranges goes up, consumers will buy apples and other cheaper foods. we know that. economists call that switching "substitution," but that change in behavior doesn't show up in the official inflation rate. so most economists think the current consumer price index overstates the actual cost of living. that's important because the inflation rate is used to set tax brackets and social security benefits. moving to a more accurate inflation measure called the "chained c.p.i." would cut the deficit by $200 billion over ten years. supporters say the change wouldn't cut benefits. >> if we're making the change to reflect what is the real cost of
living, as opposed to a different one, then you are not reducing them; you're just truing up what you should be getting. not something that-- i hate to use the term-- that might be inflated beyond what it should have been. >> reporter: this so-called technical fix will shave a quarter of a percentage point off social security's annual cost of living increase, and that difference adds up over time. some worry that will hurt the very old. >> it cuts real benefits. if somebody is getting fewer dollars in their check, that's real to them. and for people who are sliding progressively farther behind prevailing living standards, which is true of those out of the labor force for a very long time, it's about as real as it gets. >> reporter: but the change to a chained c.p.i. is easy to do, and that means it could be packaged into a deficit agreement quickly if there is bipartisan agreement to act. darren gersh, "n.b.r.," washington. .
>> susie: you're pretty upbeat on the stock market side. taking look at the forecast for the s&p 500, you're calling for a gain of 8%, it will get to the 1575 level to the 1400 level. what is going to give investors confidence to take their money out of cash and invest it in stocks? >> again, susie, we've had some significant head winds over the past year or so. we think as we get past the fiscal cliff and job creation continues, i think investors are going to be feeling a little more optmistic. we think with modest earnings growth, we're looking for earnings to be up about 5%, and with a little extra improvement and sentiment, investors could push the market up
about 8%. not a big gain, but a decent one, giving the slow-growing economy we're seeing right now. >> susie: your whole forecast is depending on an agreement on fiscal cliff. if we go over the cliff, what happens to your forecast. what will you be saying at the start of the year about the outlook for the economy and jobs. >> a lot of people are focused on the january 1st deadline. we don't think if we don't have an agreement by january 1st that everything falls apart. what we're watching very closely is if there is still negotiating taking place. if we still see both sides talk, i don't think the january 1st deadline is going to mean that much. we would only worry about the worst-case scenario with the economy contracting if there is a real stalemate and both parties walk away from the talks. we don't expect that. we're beginning to see some signs there is some willingness to compromise on both parties. >> susie: as we said from the start, you're
pretty positive on the outlook. gary thayer of wells fargo advisor. >> susie: los angeles and long beach port workers were back at work today, ending a costly eight-day strike. the ports were crippled after clerical workers went on strike and were supported by the longshoreman's union, which refused to cross the picket line. the shutdown cost $1 billion a day. the work stoppage also forced ships to reroute to ports in mexico, panama and northern california. a tentative deal was reached late last night after federal mediators joined negotiations. no details yet on the deal, but
workers are expected to get new terms that will prevent jobs from being outsourced. >> tom: we saw the influence of apple on any stock index which includes it. without apple, the dow rallied. but the nasdaq and s&p 500 were weighed down thanks to apple's weakness. the s&p 500 hit its lowest level of the session just after a stronger than expected report on the services sector before 11:00 a.m. eastern time. it bounced into positive territory and closed up 0.2%. volume picked up a little on the big board with 757 million shares. 1.8 billion moved on the nasdaq. the technology sector was the big drag on the broad market. it fell 1.3%. the utility sector saw the best gains, up 1.6%. apple put the brakes on the broad market, selling off on heavier than usual volume. apple fell 6.4%, with the stock closing at a three-week low. there are plenty of trader theories behind the weakness in apple.
they include apple not announcing a special shareholder dividend; reports of traders facing higher margins if they borrowed money to buy apple stock, leading them to cut their positions; and worries about new competition from nokia. speaking of competition for the iphone, nokia announced a deal with china-mobile to sell its top lumia smartphone in china. shares of nokia jumped 12.8%. volume was very heavy as shares sit at a seven-month high. meantime, banking stocks were in focus thanks to the job cuts announced at citigroup. bank of america joined in the rally with shares closing with a double-digit handle. with b. of a. finishing the session at $10.46, it's the first close over $10 per share since july 2011. also helping the financial sector: insurance companies. two of them released their estimates of how much hurricane sandy will cost them. travelers figures the storm will cost it $650 million.
hartford pegged its storm losses as high as $350 million. analysts say the companies can absorb the impact. both stocks were higher. travelers rallied 4.9%, closing less than one dollar away from a new 52-week high. hartford added 2.9%. drug giant pfizer had encouraging news on an experimental breast cancer drug. with up to $6 billion in potential global sales, the stock rallied. shares jumped 1.9% on heavier than usual volume. while the breast cancer drug tests were positive, any regulatory approval wouldn't happen for at least a couple of years. three of the five most actively traded exchange traded products were up. the financial e.t.f. had the best gains, up 1.2%. and that's tonight's "market focus."
>> susie: a tough day for investors in freeport mcmoran. the stock plunged 16% on news that the mining company is buying two oil and gas producers. it's paying $9 billion for plains exploration and production company and mcmoran exploration company. diane eastabrook has details on freeport's plans to build a larger, more diversified company. >> reporter: freeport mcmoran tried to assure investors today that getting into the energy business doesn't mean the company is turning its back on mining. under the deal, freeport will pay $6.9 billion for plains exploration and production and $2.1 billion for mcmoran exploration, a sister company it was separated from a couple of decades ago. the deal would also leave freeport with $20 billion of debt. freeport executives say getting
into oil and natural gas would help diversify the company and keep more of its assets in north america, where there's a huge shale gas boom. they estimate by next year freeport will derive a little more than a quarter of its profits from energy and the rest from mining, versus 100% from mining today. the company says it thinks demand for commodities, especially energy, will continue to grow. that could help offset the increased difficulty mining companies are having trying to find new projects in regions outside the u.s. and with interest rates currently at historic lows, the timing was right to ink the two deals. diane eastabrook, "n.b.r.," chicago. >> tom: daniel rohr is a metals and mining analyst from morningstar and joins us from chicago. dan, how unique of a deal is this in the u.s. to have mining and energy drilling all in the same company? >> it is very unusual, forthe p. decades, ago, however, we
had seen a lot of the oil majors, folks like amco, with exposure to mining as well. this is an animal we haven't seen in quite sometime in the u.s. >> tom: what drove the deal for freport, why did it want to go outside its expertise mining, that was two generations of leaders ago. why now? >> yeah. i'm still struggling with the underlying strategic rationale for this deal. judging by the stock market, i can't see a clear rationale as far as why they did this. what management has said is they see a compelling story for oil and gas demand over the next several decades, and the purchase of plains and m.n.r., was a good way to bet on that outlook. >> tom: i suppose one point that is worth exploring here is little
bit, mac moran and mines around the world, they're mostly based here in the u.s. is that a big change, and why that? >> freport's mining assets consistent of as you said, copper and gold in indonesia, and they've got composure to the democratic public of congo, and they have some mining assets in the united states and south america as well. but what the u.s. oil and natural gas assets bring to the table, in addition to commodities, is well outside freport's existing portfolio of business, is a reduced level of country risk, especially compared to what you undertake when you do business in indonesia or the d.r.c. >> tom: just a half minute left, and i want to ask you about the stock for freport mac moran, how should long-term investors take a look at this? >> well, long-term investors that had been
sitting in freport original need to ask themselves are you really interested in this oil and gas story. because you need to remember investors to have undertaken this deal on their own. they didn't need freporto go out and lever up and pay a 39% premium for planes. >> tom: dan, do you own freport? >> i do not. >> tom: daniel rohr with us, he is with morningstar. >> reporter: i'm erika miller in new york. tomorrow, we'll talk to the c.e.o. of kitchen chain sur la table and hear his outlook for holiday spending. >> susie: finally, we want to remind you about a special guest on "n.b.r." tomorrow: "n.b.r." founding co-anchor paul kangas will join us tomorrow night, december 6. and we'll talk about the markets, and he'll answer some of your questions. that's tomorrow night. and you can submit your questions on facebook or twitter at bizrpt.
i'll be in miami with both of you. >> tom: we've been straightening up the studio for your visit here, susie. we've been sweeping up and cleaning up. >> susie: i was counting on that. thanks, tom. >> tom: you've got it. >> susie: that's "nightly business report" for wednesday, december 5. have a great evening, everyone. and you, too, tom. >> tom: good night, susie. we'll see you online at www.nbr.com and back here tomorrow night. captioning sponsored by wpbt captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> join us anytime at nbr.com. there, you'll find full episodes of the program, complete show transcripts and all the market stats.
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